Top House leadership aide fails to file accurate disclosures (Corrected)
One was Michael Collins, chief of staff to Rep. John Lewis (D-Ga.), who serves as senior chief deputy whip for the Democrats and is an iconic leader of the civil rights movement. The ethics committee did not announce what it was investigating but LegiStorm's analysis of his financial disclosures suggests several areas of weakness in his filings:
- Collins failed to report at least $66,000 in consulting income from Rep. Lewis's campaign and leadership PAC since the calendar year 2006, which is the earliest year for which LegiStorm has his financial disclosure. Of the $81,000 that the campaigns report that he received in flat sum consulting payments, Collins reported only $15,000 of that in any of his annual disclosures.
- In 2009, Collins received payments slighly in excess of the House's limit on outside income. The campaigns reported paying him $27,000, while the income limit was $26,550.
- Financial disclosure filers are required to report trips paid by private interest both in detailed filings during the year as well as in their annual financial disclosures, but Collins's filings were inconsistent. In five separate instances, the House does not have the required detailed trip filings he was supposed to report about travel paid by private interests, including from two colleges, a scholarship fund, "San Diego" (he does not say more precisely) and Parsons Corp., an engineering giant that is one of Lewis's big campaign contributors. Such detailed filings are required so that the Ethics Committee can determine whether the trips comport with ethics rules, such as ones limiting the role lobbyists can play in arranging trips. Likewise, Collins's annual financial disclosures do not disclose three trips that his detailed trip reports say he took.
- Collins was inconsistent in reporting assets, reporting none in the 2011 disclosure, although he reported liabilities of hundreds of thousands of dollars on properties that he had previously listed on his disclosure. In 2007, he originally claimed having no assets, but later filed an amendment saying he had a property in Atlanta. That amended disclosure failed to mention a second property in Atlanta that showed up on his disclosure the following year, even though the disclosures mention no asset purchases, as are required of new acquisitions.
Collins reports owning three properties, one his residence in Fort Washington, Md. Another is in Twelve Centennial Park, a large hotel and condominium complex which is also the recipient of $4,298 in "travel/lodging" payments from John Lewis's campaign. There is no indication, however, that the payments have anything to do with Collins.
The other aide who is attracting scrutiny from the House Ethics Committee is Greg Hill, a chief of staff to Rep. Michael McCaul (R-Texas). A spokesman for McCaul told the Wall Street Journal that the review involved a payroll matter that he believes to be cleared up.
In addition, the ethics panel said it was investigating two members of Congress, Rep. Gregory Meeks (D-N.Y.) and Rep. Jean Schmidt (R-Ohio), for well-publicized issues.
The original post said that Hill had reported more campaign income on his financial disclosures over the past four years than the campaign reported paying Hill. This was an incorrect calculation due to the inconsistent reporting of campaign data with the FEC. Hill's disclosed amounts actually did match the payments reported by the campaign.